I Heart San Diego, Naval Base and Everything

I Heart San Diego, Naval Base and Everything

San Diego is where I was born. I did not live there long enough to get to know the city well as an adult; the places I drove to when I was 16 – 19 were the high school, the ballet studio, Balboa Park, the beach, my boyfriend’s house. That was pretty much it. Oh, and yeah, the mall. Back when indoor malls were new (late 1970s, for those of you who aren’t sure of the time frame).

Having a boyfriend (aka now the Hubby) meant my horizons got wider. Which means, I never went to the beach before driving there with him. It was our first date, actually – I drove us in my new-to-me Toyota Corolla, a pretty yellow four door, in 1977, to La Jolla Shores and we walked along a spit of land that fell into the sea a few years later.

But This Post Isn’t About That.

Two weekends ago I spent the entire weekend down in San Diego with the hubs. I hope to do so again, very soon, and stay on the boat he’s staying on while he performs there. In the meantime, I want to share some of the beauty that is Shelter Island (and I’ll tell you the story of my first time there in a bit).

Just the most beautiful view. I wouldn’t mind living in one of those houses on the hill. Or, for that matter, one of those bigger boats…You?

Shelter Island is beautiful. Now, my sense of the geography of San Diego is totally off, so forgive me, but I believe Shelter Island is a part of Point Loma. At any rate, it’s also called the America’s Cup Harbor – there are even signs to that effect. More on that later. While I was waiting for the hubby to finish playing banjo and take me to the Starbucks so I could plug in and write, I took this photo.

I’d live on one for a summer. Would you?

And of course, here’s one of the hubby playing banjo…

My man, practicing the banjo. One of the hardest working actors I know, anywhere.

And some dogs I saw, racing along the water together. They looked like they were having SO much fun!

Two dogs having a roaring good time in the water. No, they’re not mine. Yes, their owners were not far away.

But now I suppose you want to know the story of my first time on Shelter Island. Well…hubby gave me really good directions. Except he said the fatal words – “You can’t miss the turn. There’s a huge sign.”

This was my first time to Shelter Island. I was still in The Boot, but I decided to go down, visit my dad for a half day, then hie myself hither to see my hubby. Unfortunately, while his directions got me to the right place, his “you can’t miss it” had me expecting flashing lights and pointing fingers and a sign that said “GO THIS WAY CHRISTINE”. So I kept driving on Rosecrans, passing the small street sign that said Shelter Island, and the sign that said “America’s Cup Harbor”, figuring that the sign to turn must be bigger. In fact, I went so far on Rosecrans that whenever I looked to my left, between the houses I saw water. I figured I was getting close.

And I was. Unfortunately, I was very close to the Point Loma Naval Base. Ahead of me by almost 500 yards I saw a guard shack and two armed military men. Knowing I was in the wrong place, for a few seconds I thought I should make an illegal U turn and flee…but I wasn’t sure if they wouldn’t have a military helicopter after me, what with the strange goings-on in our country lately. So instead, I sedately crept forward, getting my self-deprecating skills polished as we inched ahead. (Everyone was stopped.)

(BTW – I was going to put a photo here of the checkpoint, but I couldn’t find one and OF COURSE I didn’t take one.)

When I got up to the soldier, I rolled down my window and expressed my abject apologies, saying I was supposed to go to the Shelter Island Marina but my sense of direction kind of sucked and could I please make a U turn? He listened, nodded politely, asked for my license, walked around to the back of my car, called in my license plate and probably my drivers license number. When he came back I smiled self-deprecatingly (practice came in handy) and I said that I hadn’t wanted to make an illegal U turn.

He nodded again, politely, and then told me that I would proceed to the armed officer ahead of me, make my U turn, and he would hand my license over to me on the other side of the cement berm.

Um, okay. So I went ahead, turned at the young (SO YOUNG) soldier’s wave, came around to the other side, and accepted my license. The other young soldier waved me on and wished me a good day.

I headed to the hubby and the marina, chuckling at my encounter with the military but still in awe and a bit trembly. SO glad I wasn’t a Bad Guy at that moment. Did I mention the (no clue what type weapon) guns they had slung over their shoulders?

But I finally met the hubby at the Tiki of Bali Hai. And I leave you with that photo…

This is the parking lot not only for the Bali Hai restaurant, but for the Shelter Island Marina. Oh, and at night, the Tiki on the roof only has one glowing red eye. Spooky…


Thanks so much for coming along on this journey. What unexpected encounters have you had while adventuring? Animal, mineral, or vegetable, lol?


Until next time, be good to one another. Cheers!

Of Theater Widows and Broken Legs

Of Theater Widows and Broken Legs

Sorry for my lack of posting. It’s been a bit of hell around here this week. Both good and bad, and don’t they always seem to go hand in hand?

Me and the Boot on vacation in Mammoth Lakes, California. August, 2011.

First off, I’m back in The Boot. Yes, that lovely fashion statement is once again a staple of my wardrobe. On Monday, I managed to step wrong and cause a hairline fracture just slightly off from the place I broke my fibula 18 months ago. When the pain didn’t go away immediately, I made an appointment with my bone doc – and back in the boot am I. For a minimum of two weeks, then we take another x-ray to see what’s what.

At least it’s not the four months like the last time.

Theater Widow

And in other good/bad news, my hubby has been hired in a theater production down in San Diego, starting early next week and running until the beginning of June. He’s excited (when I have more detail, I’ll share) and I’m so happy for him. But right now, past midnight, I’m miserable. I mean, I’m used to being the kind of Theater Widow where the hubby is gone for hours, not days. The type where I go to sleep by myself, but wake up next to him in the morning. So this is different.

Plus, right now, he’s off auditioning for other jobs that don’t even start until this one is

From L to R, Tim, Tom and Chet Ashworth. Mammoth, 2011

over; and they aren’t here in the L.A. area. Which means more being apart. Which totally sucks. Since I turned fifty – since my warranty broke, lol – we’ve grown so much closer. He’s been there with me through all the worry and adversity and we’ve come out the other side a lot stronger, together.

I’m not good at being alone, I find. I don’t eat well. I drink a little too much. I don’t write, which is a damned shame and something that I must fix. I feel very alone, which is silly since my two grown sons are just down the hall. But a part of me is missing, and I’m not at all happy about that. And he’s only been gone since Tuesday!

In the grand scheme of things, I’m slightly ashamed at my weakness. I mean, my husband isn’t serving in the military, half way around the world. He’s not in mortal danger every day. I know a lot of military wives, and I am in awe of how resilient they are. I suppose, if my husband had traveled a lot throughout our marriage, I too would be much more resilient and self-reliant and stiff-upper-lippy about it. But I’m not. Inside, I’m whiny and mopey and feeling very sorry for myself.

I probably need to make a plan for these long nights. First off, eat extremely healthy and have only one glass of wine. Second, write. Third, figure out Face Time. (I have skype but the hubby’s iPad has Face Time.) Otherwise, I will waste my time in front of the TV set, watching Project Runway or NCIS reruns or something like that, when I should be doing something much more productive, like getting this book finished. And the next one. (Because I can’t sell them if they’re not finished!)

So, deep breath. I will survive. (Not too sure about the garden, though – hubby was my main garden hand. Will need to press the boys into servitude.) I’ve got RWA Chapter meetings to go to this weekend, and I’ll actually see the hubs for a few hours. Plus writing will get done. I swear it.

How’s your week been? What’s been Good? What’s been Bad?

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~


Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?


Rest Stops – The Pause that Refreshes

Rest Stops – The Pause that Refreshes

We took advantage of Tom not having any other commitments yesterday and drove down to see my Dad. Dad, as Dads do, is getting older and his garden had been overgrown with grasses and weeds during the winter. Which made him sad, so we decided to go down with picks and gloves and turn the soil for him, so he could plant.

My Dad, Chet Cunningham, with a fence post pick, in his back yard. March 24, 2013.

A small thing to do for a man who loves to garden.

The road from my house to my dad’s is a long one, though. And there’s only one rest stop between the two, on the 5 Freeway southbound (and one Northbound) near Aliso Creek. After being under construction for years, it’s all open and pretty and – amazing – a pause in the trip that truly refreshes.


I’ve seen this rest stop under construction, with thirty port-a-pottys lined up (wish I’d gotten a picture!) and lines of people waiting to use them. That was on an Easter Sunday a few years ago, I believe.

But now? Gorgeous. Lots of trees, picnic tables, THREE buildings housing both men’s and women’s restrooms, LOTS of updated features (auto flush, auto water and soap at the sink, air dryers). The grounds are clean, there’s a building that houses every possible vending machine you can think of (from gourmet coffee to condoms, chips to cheese crackers) and the breeze is straight off the ocean. Go up the rise behind the trees and on the other side, blue sea and waves.

Every time I’ve been there, I’ve seen a family picnicking. It wouldn’t surprise me if local families go there just to enjoy the breeze and the sun and the wildlife. Because every time we’ve gone, there’s been wildlife in the migrating birds. Yesterday, we saw red-wing blackbirds, gorgeous birds with a circle of red on their wings that show when they fly, as well as the more typical seagulls.

We also saw the cutest – and I do mean cutest – 8 week old Springer Spaniel puppy. White with chocolate markings, he was a sturdy little fellow, with big feet and floppy ears, and (after asking the owner’s permission) had the softest fur and sweetest puppy breath I’ve smelled in a while, which always just fills me with joy. Of course, I think ALL puppies have sweet puppy breath, but that’s just me. The owner said he thought the puppy’s breath smelled like skunk.

I almost kidnapped the puppy right then and there. I would have punched the guy in the nose, kicked him in the groin, snatched the pup and run, without ever making it to the bathroom. But he put a friendly hand out, wanting his dog back, and reluctantly I let it go, thus keeping me out of the slammer.

Tom and I talked about getting another dog. When the kids are grown (uh…) and gone (oh yeah).  And when we don’t garden so much, because any kind of digger will dig up our veggies in a heartbeat. And when we have time to train and love and pay attention to a dog. That will be a good time to get another one.

In the meantime, we’ll let Zaphod, our polydactyl cat, rule our universe indoors while we work hard in our garden.

As far as my dad’s garden goes, Tom dug most of the bed while I interviewed my dad, staying cool inside the house. Tom got exercise, I got precious time spent with Dad and more memories, and my dad can plant his tomatoes now.

3 hours of hard work, revealed.

A round, lemon cucumber from dad’s garden last year, July 2012.

This is what was in that bed last year – an amazing amount of yummy tomatoes! July 2012.

(Had to show a couple photos of the bounty from Dad’s garden last year. You can see why we wanted to help.)

All in all, a great day – plus I got a good dose of puppy breath yesterday. Life is filled with simple joys that fill the heart.

What have you done lately that has lifted your heart with joy?

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~


Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Cold? Reach for a Red Wine!

Cold? Reach for a Red Wine!

Whether you’re dealing with snow, or sleet, hail, or Arctic rainstorms, red wine is the ticket. Toss some spices in it, put it on the stove and heat gently – and you’ve got mulled wine. Recipes here. photo of a large cauldron of mulled wine over a fire.

If you prefer your wine unspiced, but you want it to warm you up from the inside, take a nice big red – a Zinfandel, Syrah, or Cabernet – and put it with a bowl of chili, or a hearty minestrone soup. Pasta, or steak and potatoes also work to bring your internal body temp up. If you’re calorie counting, go with a clear broth – a chicken or vegetable-based soup, with an Asian flair. I like adding sliced ginger to my clear soups – gives a kick of heat, and the red wine works with the heat nicely.

So today, here are two Syrahs, purchased at Vons during their amazing 30% off sale (and I say that totally tongue-in-cheek), and a French red blend that I’m still remembering happily.

label for Alexander Vineyards Syrah 2008Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah 2008  Sonoma County, CA, Wetzel Family Estate Regularly $16.70; on sale for $10.99    Alcohol 14% by Volume

On the Label: “This 2008 Estate Syrah shows the value of having an experienced winemaker with a deft hand for knowing how to best compliment what the vineyard delivers. Intense work in the vineyard, particularly necessary to get the best from this varietal, yielded lush fruit. In the tradition of the great wines of the Rhone, Wiinemaker Kevin Hall then blended in a good dose of old vine Grenache, adding some breadth to the wine, and a small amount of Viognier to soften the tannins and brighten the aromas.

“This wine exhibits and expressive nose of black cherries and violets and flavors of blackberry jam, strawberry and vanilla. Uncork a bottle to serve with a hearty beef stew and discover why our historic family-owned winery on the homestead of pioneer Cyrus Alexander continues to be recognized for producing superb estate wines that are superbly priced.”

My Take: I had been wanting to try an Alexander Valley wine for awhile, but it was too expensive – usually much closer to the $20 mark than the $10 mark. So finding it at $10.99 seemed like a good deal.

It was better than a good deal. This was a delicious wine, full in the mouth, nice and juicy and complex. The age on it added depth that I am sorely missing in all the 2010 wines I’ve been tasting lately. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any more of the 2008, otherwise I’d have bought some more!

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~  Why didn’t this get the  “Slut” label? I’m not sure, but my notes say VVD so there you go!

Qupe Syrah 2009 Central Coast, California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume;  Regularly label for the 2009 Qupe Syrah$16.99 at Vons, on sale for $11.89

On the Label:  Qupe. Syrah. Central Coast. www.qupe.com (and no, I’m not kidding! LOVE it!).

My Take: This was a lush wine. Not as quite as deep as the Alexander, it did have more of a spiciness to it, which I personally love. It smelled nice and juicy but the fruit didn’t hit you in the face – it was much more subdued than that.  If you can find it on sale, definitely give it a try.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ 

photo of Bon Midi Red Wine

thanks to http://cheapwinesnobs.wordpress.com for the photo!

Bon Midi RED 2010  South of France Pays d’Herault  55% Merlot, 45% Grenache Alcohol 12% by Volume Regularly priced at $3.99 at Fresh & Easy

On the Label: “Producing some of France’s finest modern wines, the Midi region has everything French winegrowers need to make great wines. This is Cezanne country, the land of great artists and great wines, where the landscape is covered with sunflowers, rows of lavender and lush vineyards.

“A rich, full bodied red with blackcurrant fruit, chocolate and pepper aromas. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy  on its own, or with barbecued meat dishes or spicy pasta. Made from Merlot and Grenache grapes grown in the premium vineyards across the Midi region. Enjoy now or store carefully for up to 2 years after purchase.”

My Take: I loved this wine. We had Bison burgers at home, and this wine was the perfect accompaniment. It also reminded me of driving in the Netherlands and stopping at a gas station – we picked up two bottles of French wine for about $3 a piece, and they were some of the best wines we had all trip.

This is a wine to share. To keep around on the off chance you’ll have company, or to open when nothing else seems quite right. It’s a warm, ready, willing and easy wine to drink right now, no matter what the weather, and considering its a 2010, that shocked me.

My Rating: ~Very Good ~ Excellent Price~ Run, don’t walk, and stock up on some of this. You never know when I’ll be dropping by!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Demon HUNT coming soon!

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, Very Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

Cocktail Shake-up – Between the Sheets

Cocktail Shake-up – Between the Sheets

Sometimes I like to step away from my wine and dip my toes – metaphorically speaking – into other libations. In my twenties, margaritas were my drink of choice (though I did go through many bottles of the low-end sparkling wines – Cooks, Freixenet, etcetera). Most of my friends had blenders then just to make those frosty, slurpee-like margaritas.

photo of a margarita blender

Hamilton Beach 58150 Muchas Margaritas Fiesta Blender

Now? Those blenders are used to make meal-replacement shakes. Sigh. Okay, where was I?

Right. Back in my twenties. So, one night my husband Tom was working at The Harlequin Dinner Theater down in Orange County (off Harbor Blvd somewhere) doing a play – don’t remember which one, but I had gone to see the show and have dinner. After the show, the actors usually gathered to drink – the bar was kept open for awhile. The bartender, a cute guy and no, I don’t remember his name, but anyway…he made us this drink called Between The Sheets. (One is supposed to put you there. I think, at that age and at my then-current weight, it probably did!)

photo of a martini glassThis past fall, Tom decided to do something different and, after rummaging around in his memory, came up with this drink from our past.

I don’t knowwhat the state of your liquor cabinet is – but ours has bottles we

a photo of my liquor bottles above my cereal.

Thanks to Tom Ashworth for the photo!

haven’t looked at in a decade or so. (Plus it’s above our cereal. Doesn’t everyone keep their hard booze near the kid cereal?!)  Most of what he needed, we already had. So he made the drink, and it wasn’t bad.

Then he bought slightly better rum, and the drink was suddenly MUCH better. Here’s the recipe – 1 shot rum, 1 shot brandy, slightly less than one shot Triple Sec, and slightly less than 1 shot fresh lemon juice (jarred lemon juice will work in a pinch). Fill a cocktail shaker with ice – pour in the alcohol and lemon juice, and shake. Strain into martini glasses (or shallow champagne glasses if you don’t have martini glasses). Makes 2 servings.

This is a nice, not-too-sweet before dinner drink – a special occasion drink – a fun, different, and hard to screw up drink. Even an after-theater drink – we had it last night, after getting home late from a preview of A NOISE WITHIN’s production of Moliere’s The Bungler (in their new theater in Pasadena, California – wonderful space!).

Anyway – last night we sipped, we split a plate of nachos, and we talked about theater. While wine would have worked, the slightly sour, slightly sweet Between The Sheets hit the spot and went great with the nachos.

Do you have a favorite specialty mixed drink? Please share – and the recipe, if you know it!


Thanks so much for stopping by! Wine bottles are threatening to take over my kitchen counter and my desk, so I promise I’ll toss up a wine blog again SOON.